EP 13 - Steve Simonson - The One Minute Manager Meets The Monkey Book Review

Awesomers BOOK OF THE WEEK -  Steve and other "insiders" will share their favorite books and talk about some of the reasons why these books are noteworthy to them. We'll share why we believe learning and knowledge is a critical difference maker when it comes to becoming a leader and ultimately staying on the road to becoming awesomer.

Steve Simonson is a lifetime entrepreneur having founded, purchased, built, and sold numerous companies over the past 3 decades.

Along the way Steve’s companies have been publicly recognized with three consecutive years on the Inc. 500 list, multiple listings on the Internet Retailer Top 500, Washington State Fastest Growing Business as well as a number of other company accolades. Steve was also a finalist in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.


Steve brings his deep expertise as a leader and operator at many companies which he has taken to from start-up to exit.

Today’s Book of the Week talks about the importance of assigning and delegating tasks to the right people in your organization.

On today’s episode, Steve shares with us one of his favorite books, One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey . Here are some of the awesome things you will get to hear on this episode:

  • The 4 key rules on how to deal with the monkey.

  • The difference between abdication and delegation.

  • What a boomerang delegation is and how you can avoid it.

  • And why experience is not just about what happens to you. It's what you do with what happens to you.  

So listen here and find out why One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey is one of the best management books that Awesomers should read.

Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, "You can have everything in your life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson and I hope that you will join me on this Awesomer journey.


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1.15 (Steve talks about today’s book of the week, One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey.)

Steve: You're listening to the Awesomers.com episode number 13. You can find show notes and some of the details and links and so forth that we may discuss today, you can go to Awesomers.com/13 that's Awesomers.com/13 . So this is an Awesomers book of the week discussion and today we are going to talk about one of my very favorite books and I'm certainly glad to share this book with you. It's called the One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey . Now this is an actual an older book I think it was written in the late 80s. Maybe the most recent publication is late 90s but it's something that I've been aware of because we have used this type of book as a standard part of our management nomenclature for I don't know 15 or 20 years maybe. I don't really know how long, but a long time. As always with with these books I'd like to give a little bit of context right? So one of the things that is important to me about this book is that by defining some similar vocabulary within the organization and you'll find often that the books that we introduce are about sharing vocabulary with your peers, with your associates, anybody that's on your team. This is one of the most key vocabulary types that we use which is called the the monkey right? Who's got the monkey? Ultimately this is about assigning and delegating you know both tasks or projects to your people and it's a book, to be honest with you the book’s very thin. It's very easy to read. You can probably read it in an hour or two depending on how fast you read but the lessons in there should be very very lasting lessons. They really are some critical lessons that we have found to be not just important in our business but really easy to digest and understand. There's a lot of humor in the book which is very nice and it is written by Kenneth Blanchard, William Oncken Jr and Hal Burrows. I think Will has passed away now but Kenneth Blanchard is also a very prolific author and written things like the book Gung Ho and how to turn you know any people into organization into the Gung Ho kind of attitude, Raving Fans and is part of the the One Minute Manager general philosophy and this is part of that series the One Minute Manager. So in this case it's the One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey and we're not going to spend too much time on it today because I want you to read the book instead of listen to me talk but I'm going to just share some highlights with you. This particular book is really important and I've actually had people more than one time come and tell me this book totally changed my life, it changed my management structure and of course I don't take any credit. Credit goes to the authors who told a very compelling story. We indeed find it to be something that is just so instructive to be able to break things down to the very simplest equation and we'll talk more about that here in the in a minute. So one of my favorite quotes is, things not worth doing are not worth doing well and that really is a another way of saying something that I generally like to focus on, which is this concept that we all focus on making these to-do lists and these to-do lists can be extraordinarily detailed. They can be you know full of all kinds of rich opportunities and challenges and deliverables but more often than not they're too long and they're largely undoable and they often can add frustration and headaches to you. So having a do-not-do list or at least a do-later list that is bigger than your to-do list is a pretty important thing in my book. This quotation really does sum up this this idea that you know if it's not worth doing don't do it well right? What a concept that is to just free yourself and go “You know what? This is not going to move the objectives.” Whatever those objectives for you are. It could be revenue, could be margin, could be team building, organization, structure, finance, whatever it is. If those things are not going to really move the ball in a meaningful way then why bother doing them at all? The subset of that is you know maybe you shouldn't be doing it but it still needs to be done and this is often where the manager meets the monkey is a really important concept. Because too often, at least in my experience and I think this is not just my company's but many companies I'm talking about dozens if not hundreds of companies, often the founder, the owner, CEO however you want to think of yourself - finds themself as the bottleneck and they're the bottleneck because they kind of know what they want in their head. They don't really document it they're really good at being tactician, which we talked about in our last book of the week The E-myth Revisited. And because we're excellent tactician, we also feel like we're making progress and we're doing that kind of work, we tend to take on more than we should. One of the one of the quotes in the book is that the best way to develop responsibility and people, wait for it, it's to give them responsibility! Now what a concept right? We're always like all right - how do you get somebody to be responsible? Well why not empower them with the resources and tools they need to get the job done and then hold them responsible. Let them be responsible. This is a big culture lesson. You know a lot of times in organizations, people say well I want somebody who's really accountable. I'll tell you the truth there, most employees also want to be accountable and an employee  will use the word responsible. They want responsibilities. They want to deliver. They really do want to do things that are meaningful and important to the enterprise. On the management side we tend to use the words accountable which implies I'm going to get you if you don't do it right. But I want everybody to think of both of those sides evenly right. We shouldn't hold somebody accountable when they kick butt and when they break new records let's hold them accountable right. They were responsible for that achievement but let's sing about how accountable they are and how awesome they did. That's part of making a culture where you know you are not just punitive in nature right. It's like we ignore the good stuff then we beat you down from the bad stuff. One of my favorite old cartoons or little comics that I saw one time it says - the beatings will continue until morale improves. Obviously it's quite a joke because no organization can can benefit from that in the long run. So that's you know, that's a really important concept to think about - you know who's doing the work? Why are they doing it? Does it need to be done at all? And most importantly to make sure in my case I like to avoid what I call boomerang delegations. Now this is one of my axioms I'll share with you in another episode but I say beware the boomerang delegation. And a boomerang delegation is when you you kind of throw the the task or the monkey in this case out there and you maybe even assign it to an individual and that individual thought about it said “You know what? Instead of me doing it I know the right person to do it.” Maybe a regular manager who can assign it to people as a normal horse of doing business fine then they assign it to somebody and then that person says “You know what I know the perfect resource to put it into place.” and they bring in another resource but ultimately whoever it is, wherever it is in the chain - that person who ends up actually doing the task calls the first person who assigned the task and goes “Hey do you have any idea how to do this? I've been assigned this.” and boom! The boomerang hits you right in the face and now I have like a Jason from Friday the 13th face mask and a hockey helmet that I wear just to avoid boomerang delegations. But they wouldn't come back on me if I would pay closer attention to that One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey lessons. I'll read this actually, usually once or twice a year, maybe once every other year just to refresh my memory. It's always a very easy read as I said, probably for me it's about an hour. Maybe just a little more and and you're just done. And it's really a simple concept so we're going to dive into a couple other key takeaways for this book and we'll be right back after this.


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22.15 (Steve shares more takeaways from the book, One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey.)

Steve: Okay Awesomers we're back again. We're talking about this great book the One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey. And it's definitely a seminal work if you manage people. It doesn't matter if they're people who are inside your organization reporting to you or you know external people that are freelance type folks, Upwork or you know any of the different variations of freelancing these days. The point is that you know you want to be able to manage these people and and be able to get positive results and so that you as the manager don't have to do everything. One of the the fun little takeaways and there's a lot of humor in this book to begin with, this is a fun one but it says if you always agree with your boss one of you is not necessary. I just love that because you know the point is you know having an organization, you should get multiple opinions. There's a general philosophy, that you know, assuming that you and your employee or maybe you're the employee, you and your boss don't necessarily agree on stuff that you talk it out and then the boss makes the call right. So it's disagree and come that's a common thing. The Amazon.com organization uses where they have the discussions, they have you know all of the the back-and-forth about who's right and who's wrong. That's necessary an organization by the way. But at the end of the day somebody makes a call, somebody with the authority makes a call. And then even if you disagree, you disagree but you commit to whatever the course of action is. And again this is a very important cultural element. The disagreeing commit mindset says - you know what I had a different idea but after all was said and done, the decision was made to proceed on this and I'm going all in on it. I'm going to do my very best. I'm not going to you know be one of those guys or gals who tries to you know create a problem for the whoever made the decision. Any of that kind of sabotage is something that can absolutely destroy a culture and if any of you see it in your organization's no matter what level, you should call it out and extinguish it in the fastest possible way, always get rid of that as fast as you.

12.09 (Steve talks about another important quote in the book.)

Another quote that really is something that always stands out to me within the book, it's on somewhere in the book. I think around page 50. I don't recall the exact page. “Experience is not what happens to you. It's what you do with what happens to you.” So that's what experience is.We talked about this on Awesomers all the time and origin stories you know. Experience is not the act itself, it's what you do with it. That's what gets you the you know the lessons learned and the forward momentum assuming that you're doing the right things. When we face you know adversity or challenges it's how we deal with those. It defines what will be, almost sound like a Batman quote “It's not what I do. It's something else that defines me.” Anyway I mess that Batman quote up but the point is you have action to take when you deal with you know adversity and within this book it talks about that. The book is actually structured as as kind of a fun little story where you can see an example of somebody putting you know, this the One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey thought process into place. I want to just talk about these four monkey rules a little bit in more detail because I think this is one of the biggest parts of understanding what a monkey is and how to deal with it.

First of all that rule number one is to describe the monkey. So when you're thinking about a project or a task you have to figure out how to describe that. The subset rule of that is the dialogue ends only when you've identified the next moves. So just because you have meetings like this I wonder if you have, you go into the meeting and somebody proclaims “Hey this is a big problem. We've got you know shipping delays or whatever the case is.” and everybody around the table “Yes boy those shipping delays, we got to do something about that” and you know the next one says “Yes boy you know who wants a shipping delay? Let's get rid of those.” You know you get eight or nine people reinforcing that you know they don't want shipping delays, very few people go yes - I want shipping delays but at the end of the meeting everybody walks out and nobody does anything about it because nobody has the monkey. So once you've identified what it is, we have shipping delays, let's fix them - that's describing the monkey. Next you must assign the monkey so when people walk out of that room, you didn't just you know flap your gums for the last 60 minutes, you actually have somebody who's got the monkey. A subset of assign the monkey, that's rule number two, assign the monkey. That monkey should be assigned to the capable and proper team. Now what this means is they should be assigned to the lowest level within the organization that can care for the welfare of the monkey right. To carry on that analogy, so you know if fix the shipping is the monkey and you need to assign, should the CEO take that monkey if there's somebody capable in the operations department? And within the operations department, maybe there's a an operations manager or director or even an officer, maybe they have somebody within their department that should actually get that monkey. So the key to monkey management is assigning that monkey to the lowest level in the organizational structure that is both capable and has the tools to get the job done. Next when we assign a monkey. I think there's a really key part of it. Rule number three is we insure the monkey. Now this doesn't mean we actually go and buy insurance or anything like that for our little monkey friends. This means we decide how we're going to consider the follow up techniques for this monkey. So when you assign a monkey, you can give it with two types of insurance. One is the recommend and then act and the other is act then advise. So in the recommend then act you may say, well this is as a manager this is a very important thing. We want to fix the shipping issue that we have but because it's so complex and because it's so costly it has a potential to even get worse. I want whoever's assigned this monkey to recommend the solution. We'll talk about it then we act. Okay so that's that's a for a big strategic type of issue that really needs to have some executive buy-in if you will. Now there's other kinds of monkeys. Maybe it's like, “Hey we need to get that weekly newsletter out to our customers.” And you know we're going to sign that to somebody, marketing, you can use the method of act than advice right. So hey who's got the monkey? Hey we're going to give it to this marketing associate and she's going to send out this email and she's in fact going to assign herself every Monday to send out those emails. And in this context, we can say we're going to act then advise right so it's like hey go forward, send out that newsletter and just advise us how is it going. Now if we see mistakes later, as the managers we’re still responsible for those but they should be capable. And this is again if you wanted to be responsible give them responsibilities kind of mindset. Finally rule number four is to check on the monkey. Maybe that little buddy needs love too and we need to make sure that we're checking up with whoever's assigned to these monkeys until they're either completed and you know done. Or if it's an ongoing monkey that there are standard check-ins and as the subset of this rule is proper check ups bring healthier monkeys right. This is the difference between delegation and abdication. As always we can say just go handle this and don't talk to me about it, that's abdication and a terrible management style. Delegation is you've got the monkey, we understand what it is and report to me in two weeks on a regular our regular one-on-one check-in. That ensures responsibility is matched with accountability. We're going to take a quick break and we will be right back after this.


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19.23 (Steve wraps up today’s episode.)

Steve: Okay guys so we're wrapping up here. I'm talking about the One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey. I do want to talk again briefly about those rules. First you got to describe what the next moves. Then you got to decide who's got the monkey right. When I go into a meeting now, I've been in meetings with you know 10, 15, 20 of you know the team members. By the way I never walk out with a monkey. You know my monkey is to follow up on other people's monkeys if anything. But you shouldn't have any major target topic that leaves a meeting whether it's online or in person where people don't get assigned the monkey. They own that monkey and then of course you got to talk about the insurance to make sure that you have managed your risk. Then recommend and then act or act and then advise. That's the insurance policy based on how strategically important it is. Finally you're going to do the monkey feeding and checkup right? That's your check-ins to decide hey is everything going well with this monkey? And make sure it doesn't come back and start throwing boomerangs at you as they have in my case from time to time. I really do believe this book can help you. Again it's a very quick read. Really important work for people who manage people. I think you'll find that it is both enjoyable, a fast read but most importantly it's highly impactful. So I definitely want to make sure that people understand this and get out there and give it a read as quick as you can. Again this is podcast number 13 from the Awesomers.com podcast and you could go to Awesomers.com/13 to find all the show notes and all the particulars about this particular episode. So you'll be able to find the details in the show notes and even the link to buy the book somewhere I'm sure. Our objective with these books of the week is to share with you some of the things that we think are important. Some of the things that we have found progress and tangible results with. That's why we're doing theis and we sure hope that you enjoy it. Don't hesitate to give us a little feedback. Thank you very much everybody.

Well we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com . Thank you again.